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STATE ACCIDENT FUND v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (EDMISTON (09/10/87)

decided: September 10, 1987.

STATE ACCIDENT FUND, PETITIONER
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (EDMISTON, JR.) (EDMISTON) (RUCHTE) (ASSOCIATED TOWER SERVICE) (WJAC, INC.), RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Thomas L. Edmiston, Jr., Deceased, Janet L. Edmiston (Ruchte), widow v. Associated Tower Service and WJAC, Inc., No. A-90452.

COUNSEL

Laverne M. Kovacs, Levine, Reese & Serbin, for petitioner.

Ronald Ganassi, Will, Keisling, Ganassi & McCloskey, for WJAC, Inc., respondent.

Edward F. Peduzzi, with him, James H. Stratton, Jr., for respondent.

Judges Doyle and Palladino, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.

Author: Palladino

[ 109 Pa. Commw. Page 253]

State Accident Fund (Petitioner) petitions for review of an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which affirmed a referee's decision granting workmen's compensation benefits to Janet L. Edmiston (Claimant) widow of Thomas L. Edmiston (Decedent) and holding State Accident Fund (Fund) liable for payment according to the workmen's compensation policy issued to John Valentine (Valentine) individually and trading as Associated Tower Service, Inc. (Associated).

Associated is a Maryland corporation which is engaged in the business of erection, maintenance, inspection and painting of radio transmission towers. Although its principal office is in Silver Springs, Maryland, approximately 90% of Associated's business is conducted outside the State of Maryland. On May 29, 1979, WJAC, Inc., a Pennsylvania corporation engaged in the business of transmitting AM, FM and television radio signals in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, invited a bid from Associated for the painting of nine transmission towers located near Holsopple, Pennsylvania. After WJAC accepted

[ 109 Pa. Commw. Page 254]

Associated's bid, Valentine hired Decedent and Decedent's brother as painters for the WJAC job. On June 27, 1979 Decedent fell from a seat board while on a tower, causing his death.

On the date of the accident, Associated had a workmen's compensation insurance policy in effect with State Accident Fund. The Fund was established by the Maryland Legislature as an alternative source of workmen's compensation insurance for Maryland employers. The Fund competes with private workmen's compensation insurers in providing workmen's compensation coverage.

On October 19, 1979 Claimant filed a claim petition for fatal workmen's compensation benefits under The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act*fn1 against Associated.*fn2 Several hearings were held before Referee Robert J. Cassidy. At the several hearings before Referee Cassidy, the Fund was represented by James P. O'Conor, Jr. (O'Conor), Assistant Attorney General of Maryland who stipulated to Pennsylvania's jurisdiction over the matter. At the hearing before Referee Cassidy, O'Conor argued the defense that, under Maryland law, coverage of the policy issued to Associated did not extend beyond the State of Maryland to a Pennsylvania resident working in Pennsylvania.

Referee Cassidy found that Decedent met his death while in the course of his employment with Associated. Referee Cassidy also found that Associated was insured by the Fund and that the policy covered the type of work being performed by Associated on the date of the accident because the policy contained the following provision:

[ 109 Pa. Commw. Page 255]

EXTRA-TERRITORIAL: Effective July 1, 1974, under the Maryland Workmen's Compensation Law, Article 101, Sections 70 and 72, has been changed to allow the State Accident Fund to 'pay benefits equal to the benefits allowable and payable under the District of Columbia Compensation Law, or allowable and payable under any other state or federal compensation law applicable to the case.'

As a result, Referee Cassidy made the following conclusions of law:

5. The Laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Workmen's Compensation Act, as amended, in particular, is controlling with respect to the question of whether Thomas L. Edmiston, Jr., was an employee of Associated Tower Service, Inc., and/or Associated Tower Service, and/or John Valentine, and as to the question of whether said defendant-employer is liable within the meaning of the Workmen's Compensation Act, as amended, for the payment of workmen's compensation benefits as a result of the filing of the Fatal Claim Petition by Janet L. Edmiston, widow of Thomas Leroy Edmiston, Jr., deceased.

6. The Laws of the State of Maryland, and in particular, the Workmen's Compensation Act of Maryland, as amended, is controlling as to the liability of the State Accident Fund of the State of Maryland, to John Valentine, individually, trading as Associated Tower Service, Inc., by reason of the issuance of Workmen's Compensation policy number 43645-5, and to the extent that it may be liable to pay the ...


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